Gondwanide continental collision and the origin of Patagonia

Pankhurst, R.J.; Rapela, C.W.; Fanning, C.M.; Marquez, M.. 2006 Gondwanide continental collision and the origin of Patagonia. Earth Science Reviews, 76. 235-257.

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A review of the post-Cambrian igneous, structural and metamorphic history of Patagonia, largely revealed by a five-year programme of U–Pb zircon dating (32 samples), geochemical and isotope analysis, results in a new Late Palaeozoic collision model as the probable cause of the Gondwanide fold belts of South America and South Africa. In the northeastern part of the North Patagonian Massif, Cambro-Ordovician metasediments with a Gondwana provenance are intruded by Mid Ordovician granites analogous to those of the Famatinian arc of NW Argentina; this area is interpreted as Gondwana continental crust at least from Devonian times, probably underlain by Neoproterozoic crystalline basement affected by both Pampean and Famatinian events, with a Cambrian rifting episode previously identified in the basement of the Sierra de la Ventana. In the Devonian (following collision of the Argentine Precordillera terrane to the north), the site of magmatism jumped to the western and southwestern margins of the North Patagonian Massif, although as yet the tectonics of this magmatic event are poorly constrained. This was followed by Early Carboniferous I-type granites representing a subduction-related magmatic are and Mid Carboniferous S-type granites representing crustal anatexis. The disposition of these rocks implies that the North Patagonian Massif was in the upper plate, with northeasterly subduction beneath Gondwana prior to the collision of a southern landmass represented by the Deseado Massif and its probable extension in southeastern Patagonia. This ‘Deseado terrane’ may have originally rifted off from a similar position during the Cambrian episode. Intense metamorphism and granite emplacement in the upper plate continued into the Early Permian. Known aspects of Late Palaeozoic sedimentation, metamorphism, and deformation in the Sierra de la Ventana and adjacent Cape Fold Belt of South Africa are encompassed within this model. It is also compatible with modern geophysical and palaeomagnetic data that do not support previous hypotheses of southward-directed subduction and collision along the northern limit of Patagonia. Subsequent Permian break-off of the subducted plate, perhaps with delamination of the lower part of the upper plate, allowed access of heat to the overlying Gondwana margin and resulted in voluminous and widespread silicic plutonism and volcanism throughout Permian and into Triassic times. Thus the new model addresses and attempts to explain three long-standing geological enigmas—the origin of the Gondwanide fold belts, the origin of Patagonia, and the cause of widespread Permian silicic magmatism (Choiyoi province) in southern South America. Differing significantly from previous models, it has new implications for the crustal structure, mineral resources, and plant and animal distribution in this part of Gondwana, since the southern landmass would have had an independent evolution throughout the Early Palaeozoic.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes > International
Additional Keywords: BGSPAP ; DRNIGL ; Gondwana ; Patagonia; U-Pb zircon dating; igneous; metamorphic; post-Cambrian
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 24 Jul 2007 09:17 +0 (UTC)

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